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Full text of "A history of Persia"

LX              THE TIMURID MONARCHS           223
-Baber.—No history of Persia would be complete
without some account of Zahir-u-Din Mohamed, famous
by his surname Baber, the " Tiger," son of Omar Shaykh
Mirza and grandson of Abu Said. This conqueror of
India was born in A.H. 888 (1483) and succeeded to his
father's princedom of Ferghana when only in his twelfth
year. His inheritance was disputed by his two uncles,
who, however, after some negotiations retired, and in
A.H. 903 (1497) the boy-king took advantage'of the pre-
vailing anarchy and marched on Samarcand, of which he
obtained possession. We readl how deeply he admired
the great mosque and the palaces set in gardens with
their beautiful tiles and stately avenues of elms, poplars,
and plane-trees ; the delicious melons and plums also won
his approval. Treachery at home robbed him of the
fruits of victory, and he was for a while deserted by his
troops. But he raised a fresh army, and in A.H. 906
(1550) again captured Samarcand. Being afterwards de-
feated by Mohamed Shaybani, he had to swim the River
Kohik to save his life, and, retreating on Samarcand, he
was blockaded there by the victor and in the end forced
to retire from Transoxiana.
It happened at this time that Kabul was in a state of
anarchy, its governor (who was Baber's uncle) having
died, and the nobles having seized upon the government.
Baber made a bold bid for the derelict state, and won it
in A.H. 909 (1503). Two years later he carried out the
first of his famous expeditions into India, which culmi-
nated in the founding of the mighty dynasty of the
Moghuls.
The Literary and Scientific Attainments of the Timurid
Dynasty.—The dynasty of Tamerlane, which lasted for
close on a century and a half, included many members
who earned literary distinction. Tamerlane himself, in
my opinion, wrote the Memoirs and Institutes that bear his
name, and his literary talents were inherited by Shah
Rukh, himself a poet of no mean order. His son, Ulugh
Beg the Scientist, gave to the Turks a place in literature
1 Vide Baber's Memoirs, by W. Erskine, 1826; also a later edition by Lt.-Col.
F. G. Talbot, D.S.O., in 1909. There is no doubt as to the genuineness of this
delightful autobiography.